Life/Story of Imam Muslim, writer of Sahih Muslim.
His full name is Abu Al-Husayn Muslim ibn Al-Hajjaj ibn Muslim ibn Ward ibn Kushadh Al-Qushairy An-Naysabur. Imam Muslim considered as an outstanding and eminent authority of Hadith. He is one the leading scholars and memorizers of the Prophet’s (S.A.W.) narrations and Hadiths. His Hadith collection “Sahih Muslim” is regarded as one of the two most authentic books of Hadith, alongside Sahih Al-Bukhari.
Imam Muslim’s Birth and Early Life:
Imam Muslim was born in 202 AH (817 CE) or 204 AH (819 CE) or 206 AH (821 CE) in Nishapur, Abbasid province of Khurasan (present day located in Iran). He belonged to a noble Arab tribe called ‘Qushair’. In a family of knowledge and good conduct, for his father was a regular attendant of the circles of knowledge and upright man, and in a town replete with Islamic knowledge, Abu Al-Husayn Muslim grew up stuck on knowledge. He began his knowledge journey in his tender age, as Imam Adh-Dhahaby said:
“The beginning of his Hadith learning was in 218 AH under Yahya ibn Yahya At-Tamimi and he performed Hajj in 220 AH while he was still beardless.”
It means that he was then about 12 years old or less when he attended the circles of Hadith.
Imam Muslim’s Pursuit of Knowledge:
Imam Muslim started learning Hadith under the scholars in his town Nishapur, then he began his long scientific journeys at an early age. As-Siyuti said:
“He (Imam Muslim) traveled to Basra when he was 14, then he went to Hejaz to perform Hajj and study Hadith under the Imams of Hadith in Makkah and Madinah. After that, he traveled to Egypt, the Levant, Iraq and returned to Ar-Rayy and then Khurasan. He remained about 15 years pursuing knowledge of Hadith during which he met many Sheikhs (Islamic Scholars) and collected more than 300,000 Hadiths.”
He traveled to these places more than once without any tiredness or wearisome. In these tours, he bent on knowledge seeking, scrutinizing the narrators of Hadith and gaining the fruits of knowledge.
Imam Muslim’s Teachers (Sheikhs):
Imam Muslim studied under a great deal of scholars of Hadith and narrated Hadiths from numberless people. Among the prominent scholars from which Imam Muslim narrated Hadiths were:
1. Abdullah ibn Maslamah Al-Qanaby
2. Yahya ibn Yahya An-Naysabury
3. Qutaybah ibn Said
4. Said ibn Mansur
6. Ishaq ibn Rahuwayh
7. Abu Khaithamah Zuhair ibn Harb
8. Abu Kurayb Muhammad ibn Al-Alaa
9. Abu Musa Mohammad ibn Al-Muthanna
10. Muhammad ibn Yahya Adh-Dhuhaly
11. Abu Muhammad ibn Ismail Al-Bukhari (Imam Bukhari)
12. Abdullah Ad-Darimi
And many others.
It is related that his teachers were about 220 of the narrators of Hadith. He accompanied Imam Bukhari and was affected by his method in compiling Hadiths. It is reported that he would say to Imam Bukhari:
“Let me kiss your legs, O master of teachers, leader of Muhaddithin (scholars of Hadith) and doctor of Hadith knowledge and its deficiencies.”
Imam An-Nawawi Said:
“He (Muslim) took Hadith from Yahya ibn Yahya, Ishaq ibn Rahuwayh and others in Khurasan, and from Muhammad ibn Mahran Al-Jammal, Abu Ghassan and others in Ar-Rayy, from Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Abdullah ibn Muslim Al-Qanabi and others in Iraq, from Said ibn Mansur, Abu Musab and other in Hejaz, from Amr ibn Suwad, Harmalah ibn Yahya and others in Egypt, and from many others.”
Imam Muslim’s Students:
Imam Muslim taught Hadith at Nishapur and many of his students later became famous and rose to prominence in the realm of Hadith. As for his students, they were plentiful. Among them were:
1. Ali ibn Al-Hasan ibn Eisa Al-Hilali
2. Muhammad ibn Abdul-Wahhab Al-Farra
3. Al-Husain ibn Muhammad Al-Qabbani
4. Abu Eisa At-Tirmidhi
5. Abdullah ibn Yahya As-Sarkhasi Al-Qady
6. Ali ibn Al-Husain Ar-Razi
7. Salih ibn Muhammad Jazarah
8. Nasr ibn Ahmed Al-Hafiz
9. Ibn Khuzaimah
10. Abu Uwanah,
11. Abdur-Rahmadn ibn Abu Hatim Ar-Razi
And many others.
Imam Muslim’s Writings:
Besides Sahih Muslim, he wrote many other books on the Hadith and the most important of which are:
1. Al-Musnad As-Sahih (Sahih Muslim)
3. Kitab Al-`Ilal
4. Kitab Al-Wuhdan
5. Kitab Al-Afrad
6. Kitab Al-Aqran
7. Kitab Al-Mukhadramin
8. Kitab Awham Al-Muhaddithin
9. Kitab At-Tabaqat
The mentioned books are some of Imam Muslim’s important work and not a complete list of his writings.
The Sahih Muslim of Imam Muslim is regarded as next to Sahih Bukhari in accuracy and authenticity. Any tradition which is accepted by both Imam Bukhari and Imam Muslim has been termed as “agreed upon” and these “agreed upon” traditions are considered to be the most reliable and authentic.
Imam Muslim’s Death:
Imam Muslim lived for 55 years and died on the evening of Sunday, 24 of Rajab, 261 AH (875 CE). Regarding the cause of his death, Adh-Dhahabi mentioned on the authority of Ahmad ibn Salamah “A gathering of knowledge and revision was held for Abu Al-Husayn Muslim ibn Al-Hajjaj (Imam Muslim) where a Hadith that he did not know was mentioned. He went home and lit his lamp and said to those at home:
“No one should enter the house (i.e. disturb me).”
He was told:
“We have been gifted a basket of dates.”
“Put it out for me,”
So they served it to him. He started searching for the Hadith and taking a date at a time until the morning, by which time the dates where finished and he had finally found the Hadith. Muhammad ibn Abdullah (one of the reporters of this narration) added:
“A reliable companion of ours added that dates were the cause of his death.”
(To Allah we belong and to Him we shall return.)
He was buried next day i-e 25 Rajab, 261 AH in Nishapur, Khurasan, Iran.
Scholars Praises of Imam Muslim:
Mohammad ibn Abdul-Wahhab Al-Farra said:
“Muslim was one of the prominent scholars and vessels of knowledge.”
Mohammad ibn Bashshar said:
“The memorizers of Hadiths are four: Abu Zurah, Muhammad ibn Ismail Al-Bukhari, Ad-Darimi, and Muslim.”
Al-Husain ibn Ali An-Naysaburi said:
“There is no book under the canopy of the sky more authentic than the book of Muslim ibn Al-Hajjaj in the knowledge of Hadith.”
Ahmed ibn Salamah said:
“I saw Abu Zurah and Abu Hatim advancing Muslim ibn Al-Hajjaj in knowing the authentic Hadiths upon the sheikhs (teachers) of their age.”
Ibn Khalkan said:
“He is the compiler of the Sahih, one of the greatest memorizers and leading scholars of Hadith”.
Ibn Al-Jawzi said:
“He is a prominent scholar of Hadith and one of the vessels of knowledge.”
Sadi ibn Hasan Al-Qanuji said:
“Imam Muslim ibn Al-Hajjaj Al-Qushairy Al-Baghdadi is one of the outstanding memorizers and knowledgeable scholars of Hadith, he is the leader of Khurasan in the knowledge of Hadith following Al-Bukhari.”
Biographies of the Imams of Hadith by E-Da’wah Committee